tralac’s Daily News Selection
Featured tweet, @CelestinMonga: Sierra Leone ($500 income per capita) imports onions from the Netherlands, 7,000 kilometers away. Why? It takes more than one month to import fresh, organic onions from nearby Mali. Regional integration is key: check out #2019AEO.
Trade policy updates: Cape Town, Addis Ababa, Geneva
South Africa’s trade agreements: pdf DTI presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry (678 KB) (27 February)
Joint ECA-World Bank roundtable on jobs and economic transformation: remarks by Vera Songwe, Akihiko Nishio
Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development: remarks by WTO DG Roberto Azevêdo
Commonwealth Digital Connectivity Agenda: UK, South Africa joint announcement
The UK and South Africa have announced their agreement to co-lead the Commonwealth Digital Connectivity Agenda. This is one of five clusters of activity promoted by the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda on Trade and Investment, agreed at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The Digital Connectivity Agenda will facilitate an exchange of experiences, views and best practices on digital connectivity to support inclusive growth and sustainable development in the Commonwealth. Member states will cooperate across a range of areas for the development of national digital economies, including: ICT capability; regulatory frameworks; digital infrastructure; the disruptive effects of digital trade; and the participation of women in the digital economy, in order to enable all members to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization. The first meeting is scheduled to take place 19-20 March in South Africa.
Total AGOA (including GSP) imports declined to $11.4bn during January-November 2018, compared to $12.1bn during January-November 2017, mostly due to a decrease in AGOA imports of oil (down 7.3%) to $7.6bn during January-November 2018, compared to $8.2bn during January-November 2017. AGOA non-oil trade declined by 2.6%, to $3.8bn, during January-November 2018, compared to $3.9bn during January-November 2017. There was a 48.6% decline in transportation equipment imports under AGOA to $555.6m during January-November 2018, from $1.08bn during January-November 2017, and a 19.8% increase in AGOA apparel trade ($1.14bn compared to $947.5m during January-November 2017). Top US imports under the AGOA program during January-November 2018, by trade value, were mineral fuels, woven apparel, motor vehicles and parts, knit apparel, and ferro-alloys. During January-November 2018, based on trade value, the top five AGOA suppliers were, in order, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Chad, and Kenya. [ pdf 2019 Trade Policy Agenda and 2018 Annual Report (2.71 MB) ; Related Fact Sheet]
Uganda is considering petitioning the EAC Secretariat in Arusha to challenge what it perceives as Rwanda’s economic sabotage in breach of the regional bloc’s guidelines, a minister said Sunday. Mr Philemon Mateke, the state minister for regional cooperation, told Uganda’s Daily Monitor Sunday evening that he would confer with his senior line minister, Mr Kirunda Kivejinja, on the petition “because interfering with cross-border trade by Rwanda violates the East African Community guidelines yet it (Rwanda) is the chair of the community.”
President Kagame, the immediate past African Union chairman, succeeded President Museveni as EAC chair last month amid rising tension and long-standing counter-accusations, including claims that either government is propping up subversive elements against the other. Rwanda’s ambassador to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, Sunday said he was “engaged” and unable to speak on Kampala’s latest charges. Kigali at the end of last month abruptly stopped vehicles from Uganda from entering Rwanda through Katuna, citing ongoing construction works at Gatuna side of the frontier. A senior official familiar with the goings-on between the countries, but who asked not to be named due to sensitivity of the matter, said Rwanda’s last-minute notification about closing Gatuna border post was suspicious because road works are planned in advance, and was not likely to have informed its sudden decision. [Updates: Rwanda partially lifts Uganda trade blockade; Rwanda’s claims are false, says Uganda; Ugandan parliament pushes government to explain deteriorating Uganda-Rwanda relations]
Chinese inspectors are set to visit Nairobi this month for certification checks on agricultural produce, putting Kenya on the path to fresh produce export to the expansive Asian market. Nairobi and Beijing last November inked a Sanitary and Phytosanitary deal which will see Kenyan exporters sell their farm produce to the populous China upon meeting set health standards and requirements. The agreement, which followed a week-long intense negotiations in Shanghai during the inaugural China International Import Expo, covered more than a dozen of fresh produce where Nairobi has traditionally relied on Europe for market. “We have a team coming in from China on March 27 for the final certification of our produce and then we are good to go,” Jaswinder Bedi, chairman of state-run Export Promotion Council, said by telephone. “We will start seeing a difference (growth in exports) because market expansion is now happening. It takes time to negotiate with some of these countries because they use technical barriers of trade to stop your exports.”
Policy makers from Central and East Africa have concluded a knowledge event designed to address gaps in policy and operational aspects of e-Government services. The African Development Institute of the African Development Bank organized the workshop under the theme, “Digital economy and e-government: bridging the digital divide”. The capacity building and policy dialogue sessions, convened in collaboration with the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation, took place in Nairobi, 19-21 February. Participants also discussed the latest ranking of African countries on the e-Government Development Index, published in the UN’s e-Government Survey for 2018.
The EAC has acquired a regional parliamentary institute (EAPI), a training facility expected to harness capacities and narrow the skills gap of parliamentarians and staff in a quest to further strengthen the integration process. The institute was launched Friday by Martin Ngoga, the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, in Nairobi, where it will be located. The launch follows the enactment of the East African Parliamentary Institute Bill, 2011, which provides for the legal framework of its establishment. The idea for EAPI was initially mooted in 2001 as a joint venture between the State University of New York, the National Assemblies of the Partner States and EALA, as well as the United States International University, and initially funded by the FORD Foundation. Under the new arrangement, parliaments from across the bloc are to largely fund the institution, a move hailed as key in its sustainability.
The new BRICS Business Council is made up of five members with extensive business experience locally and internationally: Ms Busi Mabuza (IDC), Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba (Discovery Ltd), Ms Bridgette Radebe (Mmakau Mining), Dr Stavros Nicolaou (Aspen Pharmacare) and Mr Elias Monage (Afika Group). A core component of the BRICS Business Council is the nine working groups that span the five participating countries. These are: agribusiness, deregulation, digital economy, financial services, energy and green economy, infrastructure, manufacturing, regional aviation and skills development. South Africa is currently the global Chair of the BRICS Business Council, which will be handed over to Brazil, at the BRICS Business Council midterm meeting in April in Johannesburg.
At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has announced that the US intends to terminate India’s and Turkey’s designations as beneficiary developing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program because they no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria. India’s termination from GSP follows its failure to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors. Turkey’s termination from GSP follows a finding that it is sufficiently economically developed and should no longer benefit from preferential market access to the US market.
It’s official: India is Trump’s next target in the trade wars
India weighs retaliatory tariffs on US imports worth $10.6bn
A bumpy road ahead for India-US trade relations
Altering preferential status a significant change to India-US trade ties says Raj Bhalla
What is GSP, and how did India gain from being on US trade preference list?
India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council to take up duty withdrawal benefit under GSP with Commerce ministry
Today’s Quick Links:
Michael Kottoh: Boosting development through sovereign wealth funds
SADC posts a consultancy for the development of a strategy for conservation and utilization of animal genetic resources
US National Security Strategy Development workshop for Central, Southern Africa (8-12 April, Gaborone)
EU exit and impacts on Northern Ireland’s services trade